Troy Fautanu is a double-edged sword of a prospect for Steelers

Troy Fautanu fills a major need at tackle for the Steelers, but he certainly carries some risk as a prospect at tackle.
Washington offensive lineman Troy Fautanu (OL19)
Washington offensive lineman Troy Fautanu (OL19) / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers once again made some heavy investments in the offensive line during the draft, as three of their top four picks were used for linemen. Headlining it all was Troy Fautanu. Most expected him to be off the board before the team picked, but if reports are true, Pittsburgh was eagerly waiting on him to be available at pick 20, so they rushed in their choice.

On the surface, this is a great choice. Most viewed Fautanu as an earlier first-round prospect, but he fell due to lingering long-term questions about his health as well as his lack of size. His tape is a different story though, as he is a refined blocker that shines when asked to block and work in space.

While I am happy that this team has continued to invest in the offensive line, I do have some concerns with Fautanu. The continued focus on building out a strong line is key to long-term success, but Fautanu seems like he could be a double-edged sword of a prospect.

Where Troy Fautanu fits for the Steelers

As a prospect, Fautanu figures to be a plug-and-play starter at either tackle spot. Unlike Broderick Jones a year, Fautanu is an experienced player having started extensively while at Washington. He lacks the ideal size and traits of Jones, but he is leaps and bounds more refined as a player as a rookie.

While I have been an adamant Dan Moore supporter, I think this selection does spell the end of his time as a starter. Jones needed some time to refine his raw skills. Fautanu doesn’t. Given his experience and style, he should see the field sooner than later.

My main issue with him is his lack of height. It is rare for a tackle to be under 6’4 and stay there for his entire career. It is equally rare for a first-round pick to be that short and stay at the position. Because of that, many projected Fautanu to move inside at the next level, something the Steelers have already refuted.

Can Fautanu defy those numbers? It is possible given his good length (a trait more important than height) and athleticism. That said, his lack of traditional size will limit his ceiling. While I believe he will get every shot to stay at tackle, I will also wonder just how good of a guard he could be. I plan on looking into the historical trend on size for a tackle, as those numbers proved important with the center class this year.

My other issue is that Fautanu played almost exclusively at left tackle at Washington. The Steelers claimed that they wanted to eventually move Jones to left tackle, but Fautanu has a lot more experience there. A minor issue, sure, but one worth considering as we put together this line.

All eyes are on centers ahead of Steelers' second-round selection. dark. Next. All eyes are on centers ahead of Steelers' second-round selection

Overall, I like the pick of Fautanu in the first round, but I am not as thrilled with him as I was with Jones a year ago. I think his lack of size will limit him somewhat, and while he can turn into a good starter, I don’t think he will be elite.